Stalls – July ’87
More Than Words Can Say
We were dipping into the second bottle of wine (well, ok, so we had opened three more bottles, but there were three of us there and two more on the way) when the subject of car ads came up. Actually, Garry was leafing through Johnny’s copy of “Rust Buckets Northwest” or whatever the title was before it was terminally smudged . Admiring the newsprint quality photos, giggling over the prices and puzzled by the descriptions, we speculated about what kind of person was behind the words on t he page, and what t hose words really meant. After about three glasses of research apiece, the answers began to fall into place.
Car sellers fall into three basic categories. There are the realists, such as as the 924 owners who k now their cars aren’t worth much over four grand. There are the optimists, who think t hey can get 7 G ‘s for that ’82 Audi 5000. And there are d reamers , who tend to own “restored ” Pontiac GTO’s and Beetle Convertibles.
Alt hough t he grip which car sellers have on reality is attenuated to varying degrees, one thing they (or should I say we? as I still have not flogged the 2000 CS) do have in common is a secret language. You, gentle readers, may have though that hidden meanings were limited to sex magazines, where a Greek into water sports is not a swim ming Athenian. But t he language of subculture extends to cars, which are not very different from sex anyway.
As a public service, a few of the more popular express ions are translated below:
Must see to appreciate. The more people who see the car, the more it will appreciate. This is a function of the “crowd effect.” The more people bidding at an auction, the more that clapped out 356A will sell for. Crowds whip themselves into a frenzy, as P.T. Barnum was wont to note. If a long line forms, many people will stand on the end of it, reasoning that whatever is at the head must be worth it. Looked in the head lately?
Won’t last . This means the car won’t last. Many cars are described this way . The failure to include these words in a Renault ad may be actionable.
Light roll. Presumably , the car was not in a heavy dinner roll. A light roll usually precedes lunch but is after cocktails. Cars in light rolls are hard to get your teeth into, and if you haven’t been handed the wine list by this time take your custom elsewhere.
Sanitary car. This one is a little hard to define delicately. The trend has def initely been toward smaller cars, and soft, absorbant cloth interiors have superceded vinyl. W hat you do with your car is you r own d amn business , and while I have noth ing against sani tary cars, t he idea of bu ying a used one is a bit offensive . I would nose away from these.
Below book. The question is, what book is the car below? Given how timidly librarians drive, such a car could be a real steal. Watch for chassis damage, though , as librarians tend to be a bit nearsighted. If the car is below blue book, then you need to know why it is below blue book. If the blue book price is reasonable, chances are that a car selling for a lot less is not. Most likely, the owner has merely stored his back issues in the garage rafters, and now works exclusively out of his black book.
Rare. Simmered slowly over an open flame, such as in Arizona or Florida. Better to get a car that is well done.
Cherry. [Deleted by editors.]
Sacrifice. Acts of a pagan nature have been performed in the car. It is suggested that the rear seat be carefully inspected if it has not been recovered. American cars from the ’50’s, Checkers and older Peugeots are particularly susceptible.
$9500 or B.O. The car is a race car, and is in the pits. After a little no sweat negotiating , the price will come down.
Reduced . The car has been undergoing attrition or weight loss. This can be in the form of missing bod y panels or the ravages of rust. Reduced cars can be found parked around Green Lake most any evening.
Loaded. Essentially the obverse of a reduced car. These cars have more than ethylene glycol in their radiators, and have the bulge around the belt line to prove it. They tend not to d rive in a straight line, and have very high shop bills toward the end of their useful lives. Best to avoid them.
Original miles. Including the phrase “original miles” lets the reader know that the owner had not placed the car on jack stands and run it flat out for several weeks to make it look like the chassis has more miles on it than it truly has. This practice is most common before a concours which awards bonus points for mileage , but hey, you never know. Look how many people voted for Reagan.
This article was originally published in the July 1987 edition of Zundfolge